Dear Healthcare Executives,
As I near the end of my term as the President of the South Carolina Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, I reflect on my experiences on the board. I have had an incredible opportunity to work with some of the finest people in the state and certainly some of the best health care executives, what a wonderful experience with an even more awesome organization!
The opportunity to provide, even if in just some small way, service to the board and the ability to work and connect with our fellow board members has provided insight to me to the value of this organization and the wonderful people who provide leadership for this awesome chapter. But as with all things, we serve our term and then we move on.
Many of you have served on boards before so this information that I am about to share is not anything new. To serve on a board, you must understand what your role is…and is not. This should be your first order of business to know what you are responsible to do. As a board member, you are acting on behalf of those who hold membership within the Chapter and you are asked to run the day-to-day affairs of the organization. As a board member, you are directly accountable to the Chapter members. Board members must act in good faith in what they honestly feel is in the best interest of the Chapter, and for no other purpose. As a board member, you must act with skill and care and continually move, promote, and push the needs of the membership forward.
Errol Biggs, in his 2011 text, Healthcare Governance: A guide for effective boards, summed up the very essence of why boards struggle with their duties. He states: “Although an ideal board functions as a team for the good of the organization, the very nature of a board may preclude the development of teamwork:
- Directors are not full time. Most independent directors have full-time jobs elsewhere, and their primary focus rests with that job, not the board.
- There is only periodic interaction. Board members meet together for relatively short periods of time, separated by weeks or months. This makes it difficult to build continuity or develop as a team.
- Meeting time is limited. Boards have a limited amount of time to spend on board activities or on any one issue. Because they are not in the organization’s day-to-day information loop, board members may approach their work with limited knowledge or understanding of the nuances of particular issues.
- Unclear authority relationships may exist. Unlike a hierarchical management structure, board members all have equal authority, adding to the ambiguity under which a board functions.
- Lack of clarity may exist about management versus governance. Some- times the distinctions between management’s role and the governing board’s role are not exactly clear, particularly to new board members. When the board gets involved in operations, it loses its governing effectiveness.”
So needless to say, the most important task is also a difficult task, but one that can have tremendous impact on the organization you serve. Although your gift of service is precious, I would encourage that before you make a decision for a board position, make sure you have the time to commit. Your time and service is very valuable to the ACHE.
You will note in our newsletter that we call for new members in the oncoming board that will assume their duties on March 1, 2018. Our bylaws require us to solicit our membership to nominate others or self for board membership, I encourage you to volunteer for this wonderful responsibility. We will have a number of vacancies to fill and I know under the leadership of Dr. Bart Sachs our President-elect, you will learn much, have an opportunity for growth and development as a board member, and continue the development of a professional group that is second to none, the ACHE.
I encourage you to consider board membership over the next few weeks and submit your interest to me as we prepare the Nominations Committee and the outgoing board for the vote. The newsletter will let you know what you must do for submission of your name or others who agree to serve. I look forward to seeing your name on the list of candidates!
Donald M. Peace, Ph.D., FACHE